Trinity students frustrated over tourist presence on campus

Daniel Phelan

Trinity College Dublin (TCD closed the Book of Kells in a bid to minimise the tourist presence on campus during the coronavirus outbreak, 48 hours after they banned students from having guests in their accommodation.

TCD sent emails to its students reiterating their stance on having daytime and overnight guests on their campus accommodation. 

In an email that was sent on Sunday, March 8, the college sent out a statement that read, “Students in Trinity accommodation are now prohibited from having non-resident guests on site. This includes daytime and overnight guests. These measures are designed to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.”

In spite of Trinity’s precautionary steps to minimise the virus, there was still a strong tourist presence on the campus with The Book of Kells display not being closed until Tuesday the 10th of March.

Trinity Students’ Union president, Laura Beston said: “there’s a coronavirus working group I sit on as President of the SU and we had a meeting in which I expressed how students are concerned about having to continue going to classes and a petition was started online that received a lot of signatures.”

“At the meeting on Monday, we pushed for a decision to be made. On Tuesday they came to a decision. So the college was listening to us but it’s a difficult situation for everyone because you’re waiting on the government to make a decision and you have to follow in line with that,” she said.

Although the tourist attraction had been closed, tourists still persisted to roam around the campus, leading student to grow frustrated with the lack of care that was being taken.  

“At 6 pm we’re shutting down (12th of March), our services are shutting down and we’ll only have essential staff and residents on campus,”, said Beston.  

She went on to say “it’s really important that people are able to make sure that safety procedures are in place to mitigate any risk. A lot of issues have arisen as a result of someone else not making a decision.” 

The College View spoke to two Trinity students that reside on campus to find out what they make of this situation.

Aoife McColgan, a final year student who lives on Front Square said: “It’s just ironic that we’re not allowed to have people come or stay in our apartments that we’d be seeing in our lectures anyway. Especially when all these tourists that are coming from all over the world are visiting, everything should have just been closed simultaneously.” 

Blanáid Kearney, final year law student and resident of Goldsmith said, “It’s a bit ridiculous, they put a statement out but they didn’t monitor it. I think it’s just insulting that the main concern to the university is the flow of people that were coming in, yet they were still allowing tourists to enter. The book of Kells should have been the first thing that was shut down and cornered off.”

Kearney went on to say “They did not [Trinity] put into practice what they said about students not allowing people in, there were no regulations towards that, so I think that was just a case of making a statement to look like they were taking a stance on it.”

Trinity has offered students the chance to move out of their residency and recoup some of the money they had paid for their accommodation on a pro-rata basis, an option that both Blanáid and Aoife are exploring. 

For Kearney, “the only incentive for me to stay up was the library, and that’s closed. The reality is that I’m in final year and I need to be in the best working environment that I can be in and to be honest, that’s looking a lot like home.”

For some final year students in Trinity, their university days have come to a premature end, “I didn’t even get to go to my last ever lecture because I was busy with my dissertation, but little did I know that it would be my last lecture”, said Kearney.

Daniel Phelan

Image: Trinity